By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on August 27, 2013 1:46 PM
Anderson Cooper, 6, gets some help from volunteer Shannon Hopkins of Crossway Church as he puts his hand print on one of the walls inside the Boys & Girls Club on Royall Avenue. Volunteers with the Lowe's Heroes program came to the rescue over the summer by doing light remodeling and painting the interior walls of the facility.
A group of children enjoy the updated games inside the Boys & Girls Club. The facility recently underwent some light remodeling made possible thanks to a $1,200 grant from Lowe's. The money was used to paint walls and spruce up the inside of the building.
The Wayne County Boys & Girls Club normally shuts down the week before the school year starts, to give staff a chance to clean up the units and prepare for a new year.
This year, though, the Royall Avenue club was notified it had been chosen as a beneficiary of the Lowe's Heroes volunteer program. The local store sent out a crew of workers and, along with other community volunteers, teamed up to adopt projects at the club.
"Every year, every store is allowed to have a $1,200 donation that we can give, and Boys & Girls Club was chosen," said Ashley Long, assistant manager at the local Lowe's store. "Last week, we spent the whole week out there -- we painted, we made chalkboards and cubbies, we made benches, built a stage for them to do presentations on.
"We painted most of the building, except for the office, but we did donate the paint for them to be able to do that project. We totally revamped the art room, painted it, put up new chalkboards, new corkboards. It was a huge project."
In addition to the Lowe's workers, Crossway Church, Habitat for Humanity and volunteers from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base also took part in the effort.
"There was a ton of people that were out there," Ms. Long said. "Every day I would say we probably had 15 to 20 people and then there were some days when we probably had 25 to 30."
It was a "massive undertaking," said Boys & Girls Club Executive Director Mary Ann Dudley, who said she was impressed with how much Lowe's was willing to invest.
"They walked through with Jo (Heidenreich, the club's development director) and myself and just said, 'Here's an idea, here's an idea" and then they said, 'This wall needs painting,'" she said. "They went back and put together a game plan. They chose the colors, did the research, came in with some fresh eyes and rearranged things."
The new digs are definitely "kid-friendly," she said of the colorful walls and spruced-up surroundings.
When the first busload of students showed up Monday afternoon, they were unaware of what awaited them.
They were met at the door by Ms. Long and her co-workers, who held a ribbon cutting and announced the surprise renovations.
One by one, the students entered the building.
"Woooh!!" said Dameon Greene, 13, as he looked around the game room. "This is amazing!"
"Awesome," added Victoria Royall, a fifth-grader at Dillard Middle School.
Greene, an eighth-grader at Dillard, said he was impressed with the change.
"I like the chairs. I like the way they turned things around in here," he said. "It looks real good."
He liked it so well, he didn't even take time to take off his bookbag as he started playing pool with another club member.
Aarionna Parks and her sisters, Octavia Parks and Joy Parks, all seventh-graders at Greenwood Middle School, also took note of the changes.
"I was surprised," said Joy. "I like everything."
"Yeah, it looks better," said Aarionna, who said she enjoys the variety of games they get to play at the club.
Jaliyah Davis, a seventh-grader at Dillard, is a fan of arts and crafts, and had checked out what was done in that room and gave the surroundings a thumbs-up.
Meanwhile, in the hallway between the offices and the kitchen, staffers helped students make their own impressions, in the form of handprints on the wall. Each child's hand was painted and they were allowed to make a colorful mark on the wall beneath the club's mission -- "Great Futures Start Here."